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Pace re-signs with St. Louis

Pace re-signs with St. Louis

Associated Press

Orlando Pace is the latest very rich offensive tackle.

The six-time Pro Bowl player agreed to a seven-year, $52.9 million contract Wednesday that keeps him with the St. Louis Rams. In the last three seasons, he played under one-year contracts while trying to get a long-term deal with St. Louis.

He joined fellow tackles Walter Jones of Seattle, Kareem McKenzie of the New York Giants, Jonas Jennings of Oakland and Oliver Ross of Arizona in the big bucks category this offseason.

"We are excited that the premier left tackle in the National Football League will be starting for the Rams for the next seven years," said Jay Zygmunt, the team's president of football operations. "Orlando has been an integral part of one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history."

Pace, the first overall pick in the 1997 draft, visited the Houston Texans on Monday and Tuesday to discuss a possible deal, but he and the Rams beat a 3 p.m. deadline to reach an accord. Otherwise, the sides couldn't have signed a contract until July 15.

The deal includes $18 million in first-year salary and signing bonus and is comparable to the contracts of Jones and Jonathan Ogden of the Ravens, two other premier tackles.

Another frequent Pro Bowler, running back Edgerrin James, signed a one-year franchise offer with the Colts that will pay him a little more than $8 million next season. But the two-time NFL rushing leader still wants a longer deal or a trade.

"We are going to try and work something out, preferably with the Colts and if not, with another team," agent Drew Rosenhaus said. "It does not preclude the Colts from trading him and working out a long-term deal with another team."

James, 26, is coming off his best season since tearing a ligament in his left knee in October 2001. James rushed for 1,548 yards and nine touchdowns, caught 51 passes for 483 yards and had a career-high average of 4.6 yards per carry last season.

The Vikings stepped up to bring back a former quarterback, Brad Johnson, 36, who agreed to a four-year contract worth $6 million - including a $1.2 million signing bonus. He will replace Gus Frerotte, who signed with Miami earlier in the week, as Daunte Culpepper's backup.

Drafted in the ninth round in 1992, Johnson worked his way up through the practice squad and became Warren Moon's backup in 1994. He took over the starting job in 1997, only to lose it to Randall Cunningham the next season after an injury in September.

Johnson was traded to Washington the following spring for the Redskins' first-round draft pick, a selection Minnesota used to take Culpepper.

After spending two years as the starter in Washington, Johnson joined Tampa Bay for "the most incredible experience of my career" with the Super Bowl run in 2002. But he lost 10 of his last 13 starts with the Buccaneers, including the last six. He was benched by Tampa Bay after four games last season.

"It's not just me," Johnson said. "Look at (GM) Rich McKay. He grew up there and he's gone. Warren Sapp. Gone. John Lynch. Gone. Keyshawn Johnson. Gone. The organization is going in a different direction."

Outside linebacker Steve Foley signed a three-year contract extension through 2009 with San Diego worth roughly $10 million. Foley had 10 sacks last season, the most by a Chargers linebacker since Billy Ray Smith had 11 in 1986. He'll get a signing bonus of more than $3 million.

"They weren't obligated to do anything because I still had two years left on my three-year deal, so I'm really excited," Foley said.

Also Wednesday:

- Miami signed free agent Tebucky Jones to a two-year contract. Jones, cut Tuesday by New Orleans, started all 16 games at free safety for the Saints last season and led the team with a career-high 110 tackles. He spent two years with the Saints after five years and one Super Bowl win with New England.

Jones probably will move to strong safety.

- Washington signed safety Pierson Prioleau, who was released by the Bills. The six-year veteran turned down Buffalo's offer in part because he wanted a better chance for more playing time. Prioleau was relegated to mostly special teams duty last season.

- Tight end David Martin, the primary backup to Bubba Franks during his four years with Green Bay, re-signed with the Packers.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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